Many parents search for ways to educate their children at home and prepare them for preschool or Kindergarten. Workbooks and printable activities are tools parents think their children need to be prepared, but in actuality, children need to prepared socially and physically as well. Pencil to paper activities are not the most age appropirate until they begin school. And without practice in these other areas, they will not be ready in these academic areas when it does come time for them. Young children learn through play, and they need to know how to play well with others. Whether you are home with your little ones everyday or are simply looking for some educational activities to share with them, here are a few things you can do that are entertaining for everyone.
1. Board games- by simply playing a game with your child you are teaching them many different things. Some are more obvious, such as Candy Land for it’s counting and color recognition for example, and memory games obviously increase their memory skills. Connect Four can be a good way to teach patterning. But let us not forget about the life skills that come along with playing these games like sportsmanship, patience, and taking turns. These are sometimes the most difficult aspect of the game! But with practice, your child can improve both in their game skills and academically.
2. Puzzles- A child has to use cognitive skills to complete puzzles. Mathematics and reasoning are involved, such as matching and sorting. A child also learns to exhibit patience as well as persistence to accomplish a task. If done with another person, then they are also learning teamwork and the benefits of working together to accomplish a similar goal.
3. Blocks- Buliding blocks such as Legos or wooden blocks are usually perceived as nothing more than a fun toy. In reality, they are so much more. They foster creativity and role play that is highly important in a child’s young, formative years. This can be equally as improtant as activities that foster cognitive skills. A structure built by a child can become virtually anything they want it to be, And it’s important to let them have the ability to let it be what they want. As adults, we tell them what we think it should be, but actually we need to let them be as silly or unrealistic as they want. That is part of learning what is reality versus pretend.
4. Play dough- This moldable, colorful dough serves a greater purpose than just being squishy. If your young one is having difficulty with fine motor skills (forming a pincer grasp or holding a crayon for example), play dough is a great exercise for their little hands. Squishing the dough repeatedly in their hands helps develop the muscles in their hands that they use for later activities such as writing and cutting.
5. Baking- what child doesn’t love to help a grown up mix ingredients in the kitchen? Basic recipes to create baked goodies are easy science and math lessons even if the child doesn’t realize it. Mixing ingredients to make something new is basic chemistry. Measurments in cups and tablespoons is great math- using parts to make a whole! And the end result is even better than if you aced a test!
6. Water play- Either while in the bath tub or just playing in the kitchen sink, playing in water is a very entertaining activity that helps with sensory deveopment. For many children, it also calms them when feeling a little crabby. Give a child simple items such as measuring cups and spoons, small bowls, straws to blow bubbles in the water with, and funnels to name a few. They can scoop and pour, a great fine motor skill. Add soap to change the experience altogether, or food coloring, There is no wrong way to do it!
There are endless other possibilities for you to “teach” your child before they begin their formal education. Go to the park, take a day trip to the city, visit a farm, find online games to play like memory games, or just read together! The more experiences your child is exposed to in their life the more knoweldge they acquire. So go grab your kid and have some fun!